As Nation and Parties Change, Republicans Are at an Electoral College Disadvantage
By NATE SILVER
Two more presidential elections, 2016 and 2020, will be contested under the current Electoral College configuration, which gave Barack Obama a second term on Tuesday. This year’s results suggest that this could put Republicans at a structural disadvantage.
Based on a preliminary analysis of the returns, Mitt Romney may have had to win the national popular vote by three percentage points on Tuesday to be assured of winning the Electoral College. The last Republican to accomplish that was George H.W. Bush, in 1988. In the table below, I have arranged the 50 states and the District of Columbia from the most Democratic to the most Republican, based on their preliminary results from Tuesday. Along the way, I have counted up the number of electoral votes for the Democratic candidate, starting at zero and going up to 538 as he wins progressively more difficult states.
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Had the popular vote been a tie – assuming that the margin in each state shifted uniformly – he would still have won re-election with 285 electoral votes, carrying Colorado and Virginia, although losing Florida and Ohio.
In fact, had Mr. Romney won the popular vote by two percentage points, Mr. Obama would still have won the Electoral College, losing Virginia but holding onto Colorado.
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If the parties continue down the same paths, however, this won’t be the last election when most of the swing states turn blue.